Ramzan 2020: The holy month of Ramzan brings with it a fresh wave of festive cheer. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar during which the 'Quran' was first revealed. Muslims around the world observe fasts to celebrate this month long festival. Ramzan is a time of self-reflection to focus on the soul rather than the body and an opportunity to reconnect with your faith. Fasting, during this period, is seen as a way of instilling self-control. The day starts at the crack of dawn with a meal called 'Suhoor' or ‘Sehri' meal and rounds off by breaking the fast after sunset, followed by an elaborate 'Iftar' meal. During the day, people abstain from consuming food or water.
Mansoor Ali from Bengaluru by Foot organizes food walks and has been keeping this fast since 20 years. He explains, “While keeping the roza during Ramadan, you are setting an example for a lifestyle that you should be following throughout the year. For the first few days, you do feel a bit lethargic but later a sense of calmness and ease takes over.”
'Sehri' or 'Suhoor' is the pre-dawn meal eaten before the Fajr prayer (the first of the five daily prayers) and is taken as a blessing. Even if breakfast is served before the sun wakes up, it remains the most important meal of the day and shouldn't be skipped. “We enjoy a lavish breakfast with Paya Soup, Nalli Nihari, Brain Curry, Sheermal and Rotis. This is usually accompanied with tea or a glass of milk and finished with a bowl of Kheer or Seviyan. A single verse prayer – ‘Roze ki Neeyat' – is offered after eating to begin our fast,” says Mansoor Ali.
Different families follow different customs but a lot seems to have changed over the years in Ramadan. Author and Historian, Salma Hussain tells me that the traditional Sehri dish in Purani Dilli is called Feni. Back in the day, rozedaars (those who fast) ate a small meal before their prayer which mostly comprised of a sweet treat. Feni resembles a round coil and is handmade in several varieties with flour, butter or suji. There's also Latcha Feni, Fried Feni which is slightly browned or the Egg Feni with a white hue. It is soaked in milk and eaten with a pinch of sugar. You'll find the tastiest lot at Jama Majsid. “As a kid, we would wake up to the call of the sehriwallah and still half asleep polish off whatever was offered. People would serve Salan-Paratha or Keema-Paratha and it was like a mini meal. But with the changing lifestyle, people are becoming more health-conscious and the concept of a full meal is going away. The idea of a Sehri was to eat and start your day right away but a lot of people these days go back to sleep after eating even before the food is digested. I've switched to tea, some biscuits and oats or maybe eggs with toast as a healthier option,” shares Salma.
Ramzan 2020: Different families follow different customs but a lot seems to have changed
Image Credit : Muhammad Iqbal
This special meal is what you wish to make of it. It's hard to keep away from a table filled with delicacies but remember to smartly fill up on foods that your body can run off through the day. Keep your meals simple and more importantly, do not over stuff yourself.
Here's a handy guide on what you should include in your morning meal that'll keep you fuelled until dusk.
1. High-carb foods:Foods like bread, rice and potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates and take longer to digest. They help in keeping your energy levels up. Avoid too much spice as it may lead to heartburn and indigestion.
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2. Fiber from fruits and whole grains: These should top your morning menu. Fruits like apples, banana, and apricots are high in fiber and so are grains like barley, chickpeas and oats. Fiber instills a feeling of fullness and helps prevent constipation. Nutritionist Anju Sood tells me that in order to maintain a balance, 30 to 40 percent of your meal during Suhoor should be made up of proteins and the rest could be carbohydrates. “However, if we eat too much protein or fiber it eventually make us thirsty during the course of the day. This happens because both proteins and fibers thrive on water in order to get digested. About 10% of your meal should comprise of fiber," she says.
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3. Protein from dairy products and lean meat: Sneak protein in your diet in the form of milk, eggs, chicken, yogurt and lentils. This will help strengthen your immunity. Dr. Geeta Buryok, Chief Nutritionist at Max Healthcare stresses, “Your diet should have a combination of cereals and proteins. In general, 60-80 grams of protein should be included in your meal.”
Ramzan 2020:Sneak protein in your diet in the form of milkand eggs
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4. Foods with high satiety value and low glycemic index:Such foods keep you full for longer and act as crave busters. They release energy over a period of time and will help prevent fatigue and lethargy. Dote on nuts and seeds, eat foods packed with fiber or have broth-based soups. In most homes, whole wheat chappatis is a great choice along with some salad and fruits. It makes for a complete meal which is digested slowly and keeps you satisfied.
Ramzan 2020: Such foods keep you full for longer and act as crave busters
5. Hydrating foods & drinks: Avoid having too many cups of tea or coffee as the caffeine leads to loss of water which increases thirst. More so, sugary foods or drinks, get digested very quickly and could leave you feeling hungry sooner than you would expect. Having said that, drinking too much water is also not advisable. It will dilute the stomach acids and lead to bloating and indigestion.
If you feellike a headache is coming onor light-headed, you're probably dehydrated. Fresh fruits, juices and veggies with high water content will keep you hydrated. "Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes with simple sugars and minerals that replenish water loss. Add cool foods like cucumbers, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, melons and onions which help in reducing body heat," recommends Dr. Buryok. Keep away from salty foods as they increase fluid loss in your body.
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Ramzan 2020: Fresh fruits, juices and veggies with high water content will keep you hydrated